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5 Great Moments in History That Could Teach Christian Zealots Important Lessons

These important moments helped establish and maintain the separation of church and state in America.

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He continued, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish – where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source – where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials – and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

During his presidency, Kennedy put those words into action. He rejected demands from the Catholic hierarchy to extend tax aid to Catholic schools, and when the Supreme Court struck down mandatory school prayer in 1962, Kennedy reminded people that they could pray at home. Kennedy’s full-throttle endorsement of church-state separation and his vow to put the interests of the people ahead of church dogma still infuriates today’s budding theocrats.

Separation of church and state isn’t always respected today. Plenty of Religious Right activists, TV preachers and even politicians blast it. They should know that when they assail a principle that has given our nation a greater degree of religious liberty than any other people, they’re at odds with our history.

The current flock of GOP candidates might understand that if they spent less time pandering to religious zealots on the campaign trail and more time reading documents like these.

Rob Boston is senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

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